The daughter of Pharaoh came down to bathe in the Nile, while her maidens walked along the Nile. She spied the basket among the reeds and sent her slave girl to fetch it. When she opened it, she saw that it was a child, a boy crying. She took pity on it and said, ‘This must be a Hebrew child.’ (Exodus 2-5-6)
In this portrait Moses is discovered by Pharaoh’s daughter, who debates with her maidservants whether to save the child. Miriam, the child’s sister, can be seen approaching to check on the welfare of her brother and to intervene on his behalf. How providential that the royal princess, daughter of the evil despot, adopted Moses and raised him in the palace of the king! Consider Rembrandt’s masterful use of chiaroscuro to capture the balance between divine providence and human agency described in the biblical account.
Dr. Bryna Jocheved Levy
Photo courtesy of Philadelphia Museum of Art.